Changes in the speed of the Earth's rotation can have negative consequences for navigation systems, as well as computers, smartphones and communication systems.
Scientists have found that the speed of rotation of the Earth around its axis has increased dramatically and our planet has set a record for the speed of rotation in the entire history of observations. Some scientists believe that we are entering a 50-year period of rapid rotation of the Earth, but other scientists believe that the planet has reached a record and will be slowing down, Forbes reports.
Many people believe that the Earth makes a full revolution around its axles in 24 hours. This is almost true. Since 1973, scientists have been measuring the planet's rotation rate using atomic clocks and in this way determine the amount of time it takes the Earth to complete a rotation around its axis.
The Earth alternately slows down, then increases its speed
A few years ago, scientists figured out that the Earth was slowing down, and the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service even started adding extra seconds to the day. Scientists did this to compensate for the slower rotation of the Earth, and to keep time as accurate as possible.
But over the past couple of years, atomic clock data show that the Earth is accelerating its movement around its axis. Some scientists have suggested that we are entering a 50-year period of increasing Earth's rotation, and thus shorter days. But other scientists believe that this period will end soon and the Earth will slow down again.
In 2020, scientists recorded 28 of the shortest days in Earth's history since 1960. But in 2021, the shortest day was slightly longer than the days in 2020.
A new record for the speed of the Earth's rotation
But on June 29, 2022, a record for its rotation was recorded on Earth – on this day, the planet rotated around its axis 1.59 milliseconds faster. The next such case of record speed was recorded on July 26 of this year and then the speed of the Earth allowed the planet to complete a revolution 1.50 milliseconds faster.
The previous record was set on July 19, 2020, when the rotation of the Earth took 1.4602 milliseconds less than usual.
Why does the Earth change its rotation speed?
So far, scientists do not know exactly Why does the Earth's rotation around its axis change? There are main theories that explain this:
- The speed is changing due to the melting of glaciers at the poles and the weight of the planet is decreasing;
- The speed is changing due to movements in the molten part of the Earth's core ;
- Some scientists believe that the change in rotation speed is associated with seismic activity on the planet;
- Another theory is that the speed changes due to the changing position of the Earth's geographic poles.
By the way, if we talk about the core of the Earth, then it consists of molten and solid parts. And a recent study by scientists has confirmed existing theories about the age of the Earth's inner, solid core. As expected, it appeared 550 million years ago. As the scientists found out, Focus already wrote.
Consequences of changing the speed of the Earth's rotation
The fact that the Earth rotates faster can have negative consequences for the operation of satellites of the GPS navigation system . The atomic clocks that satellites use do not account for these changes.
If the Earth rotates faster, then a certain place on the planet's surface will appear much earlier than the satellites suggest. For example, 0.5 milliseconds of time equals 26 centimeters of surface distance. This means that the satellite can no longer accurately show the location of a particular object.
In order to prevent such problems, scientists now need add “lost seconds” in a day so that the work of all systems is not disturbed. But on the other hand, perhaps the Earth has already reached the peak of its rotation speed and will slow down again.
As for other possible problems for the planet, on Sunday, July 31, as Focus, several tons of debris from a Chinese space rocket is expected to fall. The exact place of the fall is not yet known, but there is information about the regions where the rocket may fall.